‘You’ve got to be data-driven’: the fashion forecasters use AI to predict the next trend | Artificial intelligence (AI)

It’s Paris fashion week and the streets of the city are filled with celebrities, designers, models and journalists. Among the crowds, eagle-eyed experts are taking careful notes. These are the fashion industry’s trend forecasters. Their job is to get a sense of the colours, cuts, fabrics and patterns in the designers’ new collections, in the hope of detecting emerging trends.

Their notes will quickly be added to curated “trend forecasts”, which will be sold to designers and high street retailers, who will use them to inspire new pieces and decide what to stock next season – think of the “blue sweater” speech in The Devil Wears Prada, where Meryl Streep’s character scathingly explains this process to her naive assistant Andy (played by Anne Hathaway). Traditionally, fashion forecasters have relied solely on these qualitative methods, observing runway shows, alongside street fashion and pop culture, to make predictions.

But as artificial intelligence technologies have become increasingly powerful in the last decade, forecasting agencies are now turning to quantitative results generated by machine learning for help. These AI tools can detect patterns

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